Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Phil Allaway · Tuesday September 6, 2011
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Talking NASCAR TV, where we have to deal with delays just like everyone else. This weekend’s postponement of the Sprint Cup Series Advocare 500 to Tuesday morning (and it’s unclear whether it will even be able to start at 11am as of now) means that it will not be covered in this critique. Whenever the race actually runs, look for a potential NASCAR NonStop preview at some point during the Cup race. ESPN desires to test their new setup in order to make sure there aren’t any issues prior to it’s use in the Chase. By all indications, it’ll be pretty good. Remember that it will only show up in the second half of Chase races.
However, there was still plenty of action of cover this past weekend. At Atlanta, the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series raced on the 1.54 mile quad-oval before the rains moved in. In addition, the Izod IndyCar Series made their first-ever visit to Baltimore, Maryland to race on the bumpy, mostly concrete streets.
Baltimore Grand Prix
On Sunday afternoon, the Izod IndyCar Series returned to Versus for their assault on the streets of Baltimore, Maryland. Up until Sunday, the weekend wasn’t necessarily the best for the brand-new event. A nasty chicane had to be installed a few hundred feet before the start-finish line due to light rail tracks crossing over the circuit. Obviously, the organizers didn’t want a repeat of CART’s experience at San Jose in 2005, when the series raced on what some consider “the worst track ever.” There was also a really strange pit road setup that saw Danica Patrick and Ed Carpenter pitting on the opposite side of the pit lane from everyone else. Guess they weren’t expecting 28 cars to show up.
Pre-race coverage was fairly typical. Versus provided viewers with a quick recap of the last race in Sonoma with some radio chatter embedded in.
There was also an Uncut feature with Giorgio Pantano. Since Pantano is a newcomer to the series, the piece allowed Pantano to introduce himself to viewers. I was not really a fan of Versus putting subtitles on the piece. Pantano is a fluent English speaker and I had no problems understanding him. Seems like an interesting guy and he’ll be a good, if temporary addition to the series.
The Professor B feature of the week concerned aerodynamics and suspension tweaks in order to handle the bumpy streets in Baltimore. This mainly concerned the removal of anti-roll bar in order to increase body roll.
There were also five live interviews shown during the show. In addition, Versus aired taped interviews with Tony Kanaan and Helio Castroneves after their huge crash in the morning warm-up. Robin Miller’s grid run returned after an absence from Sonoma, and he added an additional eight quick interviews.
Race coverage was decent. Versus’ trio in the booth seems to work quite well together. They’re the kind of guys that can bust each other’s chops without anyone taking offense. It’s quite a change from last fall in Homestead, when everything fell apart.
The tread cam returned after a long absence, but it was not placed in the best location (on a slight uphill grade right before Turn 5). However, that placement decision was likely made since 80 percent of the circuit is concrete. Still not ideal, though.
There was a quick cutaway shot of Race Control on Lap 29 after Will Power was guilty of cutting the aforementioned chicane. I believe that was a first and it gave fans an idea of what the much maligned Brian Barnhart has at his disposal (in addition to radios and spotters). It’s a pretty sweet setup, to be honest. Of course, the race didn’t go by without a questionable decision. The race was basically decided by a 12 lap full course caution after Ryan Briscoe spun out Ryan Hunter-Reay and blocked the track on Lap 38. The caution was overly long, and Graham Rahal complained as such about it after the race to Versus’ Marty Snider.
Also of note, during that yellow, Versus played the audio from Race Control while they were trying to set the order. If you’re looking for similarities between major league racing and the local short tracks, you got it here. Barnhart was basically voicing out the order by car number and trying to revert the field to the order previous to the wreck, minus those who were wrecked. It’s the same thing that Lebanon Valley Speedway’s officials do on Saturday night during yellows.
However, all that pales in comparison to what nearly happened at the start of the race. Check this and this out. That actually happened. What the heck? Where was Race Control on that? Versus couldn’t do anything about it, but that’s insane.
Post-race coverage was quite substantial. Versus provided viewers with a total of 13 post-race interviews, in addition to checks of the unofficial results and point standings. Also, Versus tends to do post-race interviews with drivers from all over the board. As a result, viewers get a better idea of what was going on out there on the track.
Unfortunately, only so many people tuned in. Apparently, according to the Indianapolis Star’s Curt Cavin, the race got a .43 rating on Versus. Granted, that is a substantial increase over the Kentucky race that aired Labor Day weekend last season, but it still makes the series almost invisible. Maybe with the upcoming name change to the NBC Sports Channel, the series will become more visible. Versus seems to like the series and gives them a lot of coverage, but they need to get the word out more beyond the network to attract more viewers. How they can do that is anyone’s guess, but it has to be done.
Good Sam Club 200
Friday night, the Camping World Truck Series returned to Atlanta Motor Speedway for their annual visit to the high banks. SPEED’s usual crew was on hand for all of the proceedings.
The main feature on the Setup Friday night was a piece on Brad Keselowski Racing and driver Parker Kligerman. However, unlike the last Kligerman feature, this one was more focused on the team itself and their status as a lone wolf in the series. Thought it was interesting, although I think they might have taped the piece at the same time that they taped the last Kligerman feature.
The Vault covered the 2008 E-Z-Go 200, where the championship tides turned. Ryan Newman, who had just replaced Jack Sprague for that one race only, took the lead from Ron Hornaday on the final lap to take the win. That pass ended up costing Hornaday the title.
SPEED’s race coverage was quite good. There was a decent amount of coverage all over the field, so viewers weren’t left in the dark as to how people got where.
However, I didn’t necessarily agree with everything the commentators actually said during the race. On Lap 34, Johnny Sauter and Nelson Piquet, Jr. had contact exiting Turn 4. The commentators were under the opinion that another car running near the wall forced Piquet to turn to the left and hit Sauter, which basically started Sauter’s litany of issues during the race. I see it differently. I don’t doubt that there was another car up there, but it simply looked like Sauter got tight and understeered into Piquet.
SPEED did a good job explaining how Clint Bowyer lost the lead to Kyle Busch while faking a move to pit road. Under normal circumstances, the pace car moves faster around the track than the speed limit on pit road. In order to get down to pit road speed and still fake Kyle out, Bowyer would have needed to get down even further so that he could travel a shorter distance. Still, it is a rather bush league way to lose the lead in a race.
The only real issue I had with the telecast was that the last segment of the event was far too focused on Hornaday and his fuel mileage gamble. Yes, it paid off, but I’m sure there was more action for position throughout the field. However, I want to know what you guys think about this. Feel free to post your thoughts below.
Post-race coverage was fairly decent. SPEED provided seven post-race interviews along with checks of the unofficial results and point standings. Nothing really ground breaking, but just fine.
I enjoyed watching SPEED’s telecast. I still find the Truck Series telecasts to be some of the best NASCAR TV out there. The Fox News Channel, SPEED’s corporate sibling, constantly talks about being “fair and balanced,” regardless of whether they actually are or not (this isn’t the place for that debate, but just follow me here). SPEED’s truck telecasts are probably the closest that NASCAR has to a fair and balanced broadcast. I hope that SPEED can keep this up for the rest of the season and beyond.
Great Clips 300
Saturday night brought the Nationwide Series out to play in Atlanta. With all the god-awful weather we’ve had this weekend, it’s actually quite surprising that ESPN 2 went on-air on time from Atlanta. ESPN 2 had the Western Michigan-Michigan game that got called off late in the third quarter, much like what ESPN had to deal with Sunday. As a result, there was a brief break where viewers were sent back to Ann Arbor, Michigan for a wrap-up since the game was called during NASCAR Countdown.
Countdown, this week only a half-hour in length, featured the usual pre-race analysis from the Pit Studio. I don’t feel that I learned anything new. There were also six pre-race interviews with a variety of drivers.
In addition, Saturday marked the third Ricky vs. Trevor feature of the season. This time, the two racers/teammates/buddies had a strange relay race. They were situated on coolers with wheels on them. The event required the drivers to ride to a table, down some meat (by whatever means necessary), then ride to a certain point, pull a U, throw a spiral, then race back and cross the start-finish line. Trevor Bayne stuffed his craw with meat to gain an advantage over the apparently more civilized Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (he took the time to eat his meat with a fork and knife) and take the win. Interesting piece, even though it’s an obvious advertisement for the website that’s been carrying those mini competitions all season. The question is whether there will be a fourth mini-competition on ESPN this season. They made it sound like there will be. Where it will be is anyone’s guess.
I hope you guys got your fill of Nationwide-regular discussion during Countdown, because you got roughly “custody of my diddly squat” for much of ESPN’s broadcast on Saturday night. This was a race in which six of the top-10 starters were Cup regulars and all but one of the top-10 starters (Ryan Truex) had previously started a Cup race this season.
Especially early in the race, there was a very strong focus on those drivers currently in the top-5. Those drivers were basically all Cup guys (Edwards, Harvick, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, etc.). Because of this focus, I was thinking that we were lucky to get updates on Timmy Hill’s transmission issues when they happened. ESPN obviously knew based on their information gathering that they weren’t going to S&P the No. 15. They haven’t done that all year. Rick Ware Racing has gone to great lengths to make sure that doesn’t happen. The No. 71 actually wasn’t going to S&P either, but first-time Nationwide starter Clay Greenfield was forced to retire after basically getting body slammed by Kasey Kahne. The result of that hit was that Greenfield ended up in the wall exiting Turn 4. ESPN actually mistook Greenfield for the aforementioned Hill.
There was a rather irritating instance on Lap 134 when ESPN went to commercial just as Eric McClure smacked the wall for the second time. Marty Reid seemed confused. Granted, us viewers could easily see that the yellow was out, yet he apparently could not. Perhaps Atlanta should install those vertical LED strips that Texas Motor Speedway has on the catch fences. I’d imagine those things are kinda annoying in person during night races, but they would definitely stand out. The reason why it’s so annoying is that if Reid had realized that the yellow was out, perhaps ESPN could have called off (or at least temporarily held off) going to the local commercial break. As it stands, ESPN took a regular length break, then came back right during the stops. Reid’s indecision seemingly caused a panic in the TV compound, and that simply will not work.
Even though I’m generally not all that pleased with ESPN’s broadcast, I have to give them a thumbs up for showing viewers that nasty looking right front tire off of Stenhouse’s No. 6. Chewed up to heck and back. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like that without it actually blowing out, not even at Darlington before it was repaved. That could be a horrible problem today when the race runs.
Post-race coverage was typical. ESPN provided viewers with four post-race driver interviews and an interview with the winning crew chief (Mike Beam). In addition, there was a check of the point standings before ESPN left the air.
Indecisiveness always hurts telecasts, and Reid definitely was a detriment to the broadcast as mentioned above. That cannot continue. A play-by-play man must be sure-footed, headstrong and confident. Reid doesn’t seem very confident right now. Now, I’m sure that if I pressed on this issue, there is no way in heck that Reid’s removal from Sprint Cup telecasts would be described by anyone involved as a “demotion.” In fact, they would go to great lengths to say something along the lines of that it was a mutually beneficial decision, and so on and so forth. Regardless of what they’re calling it, Reid is just not feeling it right now, and it’s a shame. Of course, that’s not the only problem ESPN’s Nationwide coverage has at the moment. They still need to properly cover more drivers as well.
That’s all for this week. This weekend, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series make their second trip of the year to Richmond International Raceway. If everything goes to plan, Saturday night will mark the end of the “Race to the Chase.” In addition, the Formula One World Championship will make their 61st visit to the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza for the Grand Prix of Italy on Sunday. Here’s your weekly listings.
Tuesday, September 6 (Today)
Time Telecast Network
Friday, September 9
Time Telecast Network
Saturday, September 10
Time Telecast Network
Sunday, September 11
Time Telecast Network
*- Tape Delayed
I will provide critiques of the Sprint Cup and Nationwide races from Richmond for next Tuesday’s critique here at Frontstretch. If you are looking for a critique of ESPN’s coverage of the Advocare 500, you’re in luck. I will be covering it this week in the Critic’s Annex. You need to subscribe to the Frontstretch Newsletter in order to see it, but that’s no sweat. Just click on the Newsletter link in the Menu bar and enter you e-mail address and you’re good to go. It’ll be in Thursday’s edition.
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Some time in the late eighties or early nineties, I remember a feature during one of the races broadcasts in which spotters for the booth guys were spotlighted. Did the networks eliminate that position? If so, when? That may well tell the tale of people forever lost in the booth.
I hope IndyCar continues to grow, they have a good package on Versus. I noticed a lot of old NASCAR partners as well. The race was good, the crowd was good, they just need to expose Versus a lot more.
SPEED was great as always, nothing new.
Reid is a lost cause on ESPN. Time & time again he freezes up in high pressure situations. Dull calls to complete silence to the confusion we saw on Saturday. He fumbled the Indy 500 finish, he fumbled the finish of the Nationwide race at Chicago, and the dull call of the finish last week at Bristol. He lost his fire a while ago & I don’t know why.